Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Town Monday: Dark Alleys and Streets

The alleys in movies look nothing like the alleys that we have around here. In fact, the alleys in Livingston County, what few we have, are hardly ominous.

In movies, alleys are always dark, narrow, and secluded. Around here, though, our alleys are short both in length and the height of the buildings (seeing as how are tallest building is 4 stories, with most being about 3).

Our alleys are also wide, well-lit, and fairly clean. Some of them are kind of charming.

So, as a writer, it does leave me without any real dark alleys for final showdowns or something. Especially since our little towns have this dreadful problem with illuminating a radius eight miles larger than the town itself (more or less) in all directions with the abundance of street lights. Street lights on otherwise empty, dark streets.

Now, I'll admit that I don't much see the point of most street lights. Downtown, sure. Though our local towns could turn off half their street lights and still have enough light to illuminated any person who happens to be out. Especially about three in the morning when there are NO shops open and about 1 or 2 cars driving within the entire city limits.

Once outside the city, what do we need lights for? Certainly not pedestrians as there aren't sidewalks much past the last building in town. My car comes equipped with headlights, and I believe this is standard. So why are there so many street lights here and there throughout Livingston County? They're blocking my view of the stars! And they screw up my night vision when I pass through the cone of yellow-blue light and back into darkness again.

I've got no dark alleys and lights on what should be dark streets. I suppose that's why I fit in here-- I'm as quirky as my county.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Town Monday: Invasion

The Soviets came to my little town. In fact, they were just around the corner. More or less. Near Mt. Brighton (which I can see out my bedroom window), a scene for the upcoming remake of Red Dawn was filmed. It included scorching a stand of trees along the front of the parking lot.

There's still evidence of the charred trees last time I drove by Mt. Brighton. Most of it had been bulldozed into a pile for clean up.

There have been quite a few movies and scenes that are being filmed in Michigan, part of the tax breaks for filmmakers. The idea is that it will bring business and dollars to Michigan to be spent, thus helping our staggering economy. (Except the economy isn't staggering. It's comatose.)

This is actually the second movie that was right near me... and I didn't find out until after the fact. (What's that saying-- if I didn't have bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all?) The other movie was some small film that included a high school. It was filmed last summer at the local high school-- where I was teaching summer school. One of the teacher's took her class down to spy on the filming at the lake behind the school. Or so I heard the next day when the crew was gone.

Aside from meeting Barrie Summy last week, this is as close to fame as I tend to get. ;-)

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Town Monday: Livingston County v. Ann Arbor

The little country mouse left her country home and ventured into the city this weekend. I went to see Barrie Summy at Aunt Agatha's bookstore in Ann Arbor. Meeting and chatting with Barrie and the others was great. Driving into Ann Arbor, not so much.

See, where I come from, the tallest building is 3 stories high. And that's only in the one or two blocks of the downtown in Howell and Fowlerville. Most of the rest of the buildings are single or maybe two stories tall. No towers blocking out the sunlight.

Where I come from, we have spaces between most buildings. Occasionally there's a stretch or a strip mall where buildings are pressed up against each other. But usually, there's a space, a parking lot, or even grass. Not masses of buildings all squished together, block after block.

Where I come from, nearly every establishment has a parking lot. And they're free. Not so in a city like Ann Arbor. I only park in parking structures. And the parking structures in Ann Arbor are taller than our tallest building in Livingston County. Though, I did, for the first time in my life get my parking validated. The country mouse can learn new tricks.

Sadly, where I come from, we don't have very many bookstores. And we certainly don't have a bookstore as awesome as Aunt Agatha's with it's overwhelming collection of used and new mystery, detective, and crime books. Yes, I was drooling.

Where I come from, there's less traffic, less people, and fewer businesses to overwhelm the senses of a simple country mouse. As much as I enjoyed my visit to Aunt Agatha's for Barrie's signing, I was SO glad to get out of the city and back where I belong. Now, if only Aunt Agatha's wasn't in Ann Arbor...

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Town Monday: Something Fun to Do

One of the common complaints from Livingston County Youth is that there's nothing to do. I think they're just not trying hard enough. There's lots to do.

Livingston County is home to several parks, including Kensington Metro Park, which boasts a water park along with beaches, dic golf, nature center and trails for walking, biking, and skating. There's also the Hudson Mills Park which has disc golf along with trails beside the Huron River. And the Lakeland Trail, which is a linear state park. Plus there are several beaches.

Hartland Consolidated Schools has a fancy new pool with water slides, lazy river and other things since, when building the new high school and it's accompanying facility, the community was in favor of making it a community center. Non-residents are welcome, for a small fee of course. Most local schools have open swim for a nominal fee.

There's a couple miniature (or putt putt) golf courses in the area, including one in Howell and one in Hartland. I believe Golf-o-Rama, the indoor putt putt golf moved into Great Escape, which is a one acre indoor attraction featuring putt putt golf, bumper cars, go carts and more. And it's all indoors, so even in Michigan's lovely winter months, there's a place to go play. We can't forget Rollerama, the indoor rollerskating rink that's about as old as I am. More recently, for the extreme sports folks, a skate park was constructed behind Meijer in Brighton.

There are two movies theaters in Livingston County (well, more or less...) the large MJR theatre with 20 screens and movie tickets that cost more than the hourly minimum wage. There's also a small historic, two screen theater in Howell that is currently supposed to reopen, likely showing dollar movies. Oh, and not far away, South Lyon's historic theatre also shows the older flicks for a dollar. (That's a price I can deal with!)

For the younger kids, there's the Imgaination Station and Castaway Cafe. The former is a massive castle and play structure on the Mill Pond in Brighton. The latter is a large indoor play-place-- like the McDonald's play place, but on steriods and away from the intoxicating scent of McD's food.

For the more extreme, there's Hell's Survivor's Paintball Park. I never saw the appeal in amassing bruises, but I'm told it's great fun. There's also skiing and snowboarding in the winter months at our own Mt. Brighton. Plus summer includes rolling a giant hamster ball down that same hill.

One of the state parks in Livingston County is a riding stable, where you can 'rent' a horse. (That doesn't seem like the right term!) There's hour long trail rides and if you're like me, you learn that the hours can tell you're a pansy...

There's also the usual assortment of fairs and festivals... honestly, I think there's something about every two weeks in one town or another in this county. Hamburg's Railroad days or the Balloon Fest or the Melon Fest or the Summer Fest or Fowelerville's Fair or something or other going on.

Fall includes the Terrified Forest in Pickney and a slew of corn mazes, haunted or otherwise.

Most of the attractions are fairly inexpensive. If you can't find something to entertain yourself in Livingston County, you're not trying hard enough. Besides, it's less than an hour drive to Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Flint, all of which boast their own set of attractions. We've kind of got the best of both worlds here-- small town charm and close proximity to the attractions of the city.

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